The Cost of War

The Price of Freedom

The Cost of War

Every time I hear the claim that U.S. armed forces are protecting my freedom, I get irritated.  Really irritated.  Under the best of circumstances in a noble war, only my security is protected by the military.  The Iraq war does not qualify under the best of circumstances because this country has never waged a more ignoble war, never fought a battle with less moral justification, and rarely behaved with such dishonor.

When this debacle started we were told we had to invade a sovereign nation because that nation had weapons of mass destruction (wmds) that were a threat to our security, and because that nation had ties to terrorist organizations and actively supported Al Qaeda.  Whatever wmds Saddam Hussein had were exhausted against Iran and his Kurdish countrymen – there were no wmds found, and if Iraq had possessed them they would most certainly have used them against invading American troops.  What an appalling way to see if an enemy has horrible weapons – send brave young people into harm’s way and see what happens.  It should also be noted that there was never any proof provided that Hussein or Iraq were in any way involved with Bin Laden or Al Qaeda.  But the Bush administration was determined to go to war, so off to war we went.

I’m not so cynical that I believe this war was started for oil profits or because Haliburton was slated to be the biggest contractor hired to “rebuild” the damage we did in Iraq, in spite of the fact that the Bush family made a lot of money from oil, or that Dick Cheney has ties to Haliburton.  War always creates profiteers, for opportunity is where you find it, and when it comes to opportunities, the beat of martial drums can often be that rapid knock at the door.  But Bush ignored the intelligence community who knew the two major premises of this war were specious at best, outright lies at the worst.  And because of this imperial presidency we’ve seen thousands of brave young Americans killed or physically and spiritually maimed, we’ve killed and maimed tens of thousands of civilians and we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars we can’t afford to spend, borrowing from the future and making the United States the world’s largest threat to peace.  Apparently we learned nothing from Vietnam, though in all fairness it’s hard to see how this administration could have, since virtually none of it served in that appalling mistake called a war.

We’ve tossed out the Geneva Conventions, even though we are signatories to those agreements.  We insist it’s our right to humiliate and torture prisoners, and display their dead, captured and wounded as part of our propaganda, then deny them due process, all in the name of fighting a war on terrorism.  We hire “contractors” to provide security, when in fact they are mercenaries, hired guns who answer to no one, often working for foreign companies, or American companies with foreign subsidiaries, so they can’t be held accountable.  Those mercenaries have added to an atmosphere of terror that’s the perfect breeding ground for new “terrorists” determined to drive Americans out of the Mideast.  I’ve often heard the Bush administration called inept, but they certainly excel in one area – they never screw up just a little bit, they do it on a grand scale.

Were this disaster limited to the above it would be bad enough, but the scale is far beyond what’s happening in Iraq.  The idiocy has carried over to the domestic side; the Bush administration seems to have convinced itself that their self-proclaimed “war on terror” should be expanded to include waging war on Americans.  The military was recently found to have been spying on people and groups opposed to the Iraq war, in spite of federal laws specifically precluding that.  The military should never be concerned about political opposition to a war – their job is to fight it to the best of their ability and with as much honor as they can muster.  Federal agencies have been “data mining” information from and about Americans, including monitoring international phone records, Internet access and even demanding access to library records to see who checked out what books.  Recently a Bush apologist asked me, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, why would you object to the government investigating you?”  My response was, “If I’m not doing anything wrong, how dare my government presume the authority to investigate me?”  An even bigger issue is that this government has usurped the ability to define what’s “wrong” without ever examining its own actions.

So when someone tells me they’re protecting my freedom by fighting or even being willing to die in Iraq, I’m just going to give them one of my favorite quotes:

“The Establishment center… has led us into the stupidest and cruelest war in all history. That war is a moral and political disaster – a terrible cancer eating away at the soul of our nation.”

George McGovern, referring to the Vietnam War.  A better George than the one we recently endured, about a war no worse than our current one.

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